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Flint Could Soon Lose Its State-Supplied Bottled Water Program

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 21:29

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Michigan lawmakers may soon reconsider supplying bottled water to Flint.

For the past year, Flint's water has tested pretty clean. And unless new tests show lead or copper levels above the federal threshold, the city's water distribution program could end as soon as next month.

SEE MORE: Flint's Lead Water May Have Caused A Spike In Fetal Deaths

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said in a statement that she would consult with medical and public health professionals before supporting the decision. She said she hoped other state officials would do the same.

If the distribution program is cut, it likely wouldn't affect the bottled water supplied in Flint schools. That water is reportedly from private donations. A Flint schools spokeswoman told MLive the district is working on ensuring the donations last the remainder of the school year.

The Official Number Of Puerto Rico Hurricane Deaths May Be Way Too Low

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 21:16

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Officially, only 64 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. But several investigations by media outlets and independent researchers show that number could top 1,000.

It all depends on how you classify a person's death. The New York Times points out deaths on the island spiked following the storm.

But many fatalities were attributed to natural causes, rather than to Hurricane Maria.

SEE MORE: Trump Approves Emergency Declaration For California Over Wildfires

For example, deaths caused by sepsis, pneumonia and breathing disorders spiked compared with the same time last year. Delayed medical treatment or unhealthy conditions in homes or at hospitals due to the storm could have caused some of those deaths.

Puerto Rico's governor has said the government is willing to change the death count but that it needs more information. That could take time, though. The island is still trying to reconnect power to certain regions, with the power grid functioning at less than 50 percent capacity.  

What We Know About The Attack On UN Peacekeepers In Congo

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 21:14

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Fifteen United Nations peacekeepers were killed in an attack in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Thursday.

Five Congolese soldiers were also killed in the attack. Over 50 others were injured.

"Elements" of the Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel group, are suspected to have carried out the attack at a base in the North Kivu province. The peacekeepers were there as part of MONUSCO, a U.N. stabilization mission in Congo.

MONUSCO is the U.N.'s largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation. As of October, over 21,000 personnel were deployed in the country. Its budget for the 2017-2018 term is over $1.1 billion.

SEE MORE: United Nations Security Council Derides Trump On Jerusalem Decision

In March, the Security Council voted to cut the number of troops on the mission. The decision came amid pressure from the U.S. — the largest U.N. donor — to cut costs.

Officials said the Thursday attack is the worst attack against U.N. peacekeepers in recent history.

They think the attack spurred from MONUSCO's "increasingly robust posture" in the region disturbing armed militant groups.

Trump Spoke At A Civil Rights Museum. Civil Rights Leaders Boycotted.

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 20:04

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President Donald Trump attended the grand opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on Saturday, but his attendance has sparked controversy and garnered criticism from civil rights figures.

"The Civil Rights Museum records the oppression, cruelty and injustice inflicted on the African-American community, the fight to end slavery, to break down Jim Crow, to end segregation, to gain the right to vote and to achieve the sacred birthright of equality," Trump said at the event.

SEE MORE: Rep. John Lewis Is Protesting Trump's Visit To A Civil Rights Museum

Trump remarked on the successes of the civil rights movement, but some advocates say Trump's actions as president run counter to some of those successes.

The president of the NAACP said on Tuesday that Trump has reinforced voter suppression and created a "racially hostile climate." Rep. Bennie Thompson said Monday that the president's budget cuts "disproportionately impact people of color" and are viewed as reminiscent of Jim Crow.

Neither the NAACP president nor Thompson attended the grand opening of the civil rights museum. Instead, they held their own event at the Smith Robertson Museum, which also celebrates the history of African-Americans in Mississippi.

In a statement, the NAACP said it would honor the legacy of the state's civil rights icons by "speaking truth to power and calling out this administration's divisive policies and its pull back from civil rights enforcement."

The Supreme Court Stopped An Order For DACA Decision Records — For Now

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 18:44

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The Trump administration doesn't have to turn over any more records regarding its decision to end DACA — at least for now.

DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It's an Obama-era program that allowed some undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.

The U.S. Supreme Court is split 5-4 on whether the administration has to give up additional documents — like emails and memos — concerning its reasons for ending the program.

On Friday, it granted an unsigned, temporary hold on a lower court order to hand over the documents.

A federal judge in California gave the order in connection with a series of lawsuits alleging the administration violated federal law when it suddenly canceled the program.

SEE MORE: Protecting DACA Recipients Could Hold Up The Government Funding Deal

But the Trump administration argued the order poses an unnecessary burden on the government and that some of the documents it would have to hand over are protected.

The four Democrat-appointed members of the Supreme Court issued a 10-page dissent on the court's temporary stay.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote, among other things, that the government failed to show why it should be granted "extraordinary relief" and that the issue should be left with the lower courts.

Oil Embargo On North Korea Could Lead To Famine, Experts Warn

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 18:03

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For months, the Trump administration has pushed for more extreme measures against North Korea. Primary among them: an oil embargo.

National security adviser H. R. McMaster even said at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Dec. 3, "You can't shoot a missile without fuel, right?"

SEE MORE: Japan Is Planning To Buy Long-Range Missiles Amid Growing Threats

The U.S. has pressed for a full-out oil embargo on the Kim regime, specifically calling on China to turn off its supply line to the hermit kingdom.

But experts warn that could have a dire impact on the country's 25 million citizens. North Koreans rely heavily on oil for agricultural production. A cut to imported oil, experts warn, could lead to famine.

It would be the second famine to plague North Korea in recent memory; as many as 1 million people died during the 1990s due to widespread food shortages.

Experts also say Kim Jong-un likely has reserves of fuel in anticipation for an all-out embargo. Alternatively, the regime could switch to melted coal or other forms of hydrocarbons.

Lawmaker Proposes Protecting Bears Ears Land From Mineral Mining

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 17:40

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President Donald Trump is dramatically shrinking the Bears Ears National Monument, and that raises the question: What's next for that land?

Environmental activists worry Trump's decision will industrialize and allow mining in what was Bears Ears for oil, gas or uranium. According to a recent report from The Washington Post, a uranium company lobbied to scale back Bears Ears in order to gain access to the land's uranium deposits.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has said that isn't the case. And Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said on Tuesday, "The idea that we're going to give these over to oil and gas companies is a false narrative."

SEE MORE: Trump's Cut To Utah Monuments Sparks Protests And Lawsuits

Another Republican is introducing a bill to make sure of that.

Earlier this week, Rep. John Curtis of Utah announced a bill that would prohibit mineral extraction in the area. The bill also proposes the creation of an archaeological resource protection unit and the "first Tribally managed monument."

United Nations Security Council Derides Trump On Jerusalem Decision

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 16:30

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In an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, all but one nation condemned the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. That one nation? The U.S.

At least four Palestinians have died in the unrest that's followed President Donald Trump's decision, which went against the warnings of the Arab League, the UN and European allies.

In an hourslong meeting Friday, 14 security council members discussed their opposition to Trump's move. The group didn't put out an official statement or propose a resolution since the U.S. maintains veto power on the council.

SEE MORE: Palestinians Can Likely Keep Their Office In Washington, DC – For Now

The status of Jerusalem is a key part of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. The two groups have been at odds over the city, the surrounding West Bank and the Gaza Strip for decades. UN resolutions require that Jerusalem's status be negotiated at the end of peace talks between the two sides.

But council members said Trump's decision hurt those peace talks. Egypt said the move "set a dangerous precedent" for ignoring international law. The Wall Street Journal points out that the U.S. commonly derides countries like Russia, China and Iran for violating certain UN resolutions.

The Journal quoted one unnamed council diplomat as saying, "Others would blame America and say America is in violation of Security Council resolutions, ... which is not very good for the message we want to send to the world."

Iraq Says Its War Against ISIS Is Over

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 15:36

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Iraq says its war against ISIS is over.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Iraqi forces are in control of Iraq's border with Syria.

The terror group once controlled large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, hitting a peak in 2014.

SEE MORE: US-Backed Forces Take Over ISIS' 'Capital' In Syria

But since the beginning of 2015, ISIS has been losing a lot of territory in both countries — including major strongholds.

In November, Iraqi forces took back control of Rawa, one of the last towns the group controlled in Iraq.

That said, outlets point out fighters who follow ISIS ideology could still carry out insurgent attacks.

Louis C.K. May Buy Back His Controversial Film 'I Love You, Daddy'

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 15:03

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Louis C.K. is reportedly buying back the rights to his canceled and controversial film "I Love You, Daddy," but it's unclear what he plans on doing with it.

C.K. co-wrote, directed, funded and starred in the film, which was originally scheduled to be released Nov. 17. The release was terminated amid accusations of sexual misconduct levied at C.K. Those accusations and C.K.'s admission heighten the controversial elements of "I Love You, Daddy."

SEE MORE: Hollywood's Problem Of Sexual Misconduct Goes Beyond Harvey Weinstein

That's because the film is about sexual misconduct in Hollywood. With the allegations in mind, a New Yorker review says the film "reeks of impunity." The film also includes a character apparently inspired by filmmaker Woody Allen, who has been accused of sexual misconduct for decades.

Deadline reported on Friday that The Orchard, which originally acquired the film for $5 million, was wrapping up the deal to sell the film's rights. It's not clear if C.K. plans on releasing the film — especially now, given the national conversation surrounding sexual misconduct.

Apple Might Be About To Buy Shazam

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 02:24

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Apple might be about to acquire music identification app Shazam — for a song. 

Multiple reports say Apple is in talks to buy Shazam. The asking price is reportedly about $400 million, well below the company's last valuation at $1 billion.

Shazam used to mainly make money off a commission on music purchases made via its discovery service. But the company has had to adapt to the rise of streaming services — including Apple's own Apple Music.

SEE MORE: Apple Is Sharing iPhone X Face Data — And A Lot Of People Are Worried

Apple might also value Shazam for its augmented reality platform, which it largely uses to build virtual ads in specific images. Apple's been taking a greater interest in AR in recent years, along with the rest of the tech industry.

This Trump Tweet Has People Worrying About A Consumer Finance Bureau

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 01:14

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A recent tweet from President Donald Trump is worrying some people about the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The issue started on Thursday, when Reuters reported that the head of the CFPB was reviewing the penalties for Wells Fargo's alleged lending abuse. Trump tweeted on Friday that the fines and penalties wouldn't be dropped, but legal experts say the president doesn't have the authority to weigh in.

The CFPB is meant to be an independent agency. But Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, who also runs the White House's Office of Management and Budget, as acting director. That's led to concerns that the CFPB is losing its autonomy.

SEE MORE: Wells Fargo Takes Back $75 Million From Former Executives For Scandal

A group of financial reform advocates, who have filed a lawsuit to block Mulvaney's appointment, said Trump's tweets make it clear the White House wants to intervene in the agency's business.

Roy Moore Accuser Says She Added Note To His Signature

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 00:43

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One of the women accusing Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual assault says she altered a piece of evidence proving a connection between the two people.

Beverly Young Nelson claims Moore assaulted her when she was 16. She offered her yearbook with what appears to be Moore's signature inside as proof that he knew Nelson.

SEE MORE: The Toll Sexual Harassment In The Workplace Takes On Survivors

Nelson still says the signature is legitimate, but says she added in a notation with the date, location and his title afterward. 

The annotation, which wasn't disclosed when Nelson came forward, could give ammunition to Moore's defenders looking to poke holes in her story. Moore's campaign maintains the allegations against him are fabricated political attacks.

Nelson's attorney Gloria Allred said during a press conference the yearbook signature's authenticity has been confirmed by an expert and called on Moore to testify under oath before a Senate panel. Moore's team has called for an independent analysis of the signature.

Why Airlines Can Keep Hiding Baggage Prices From You

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 00:35

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The Department of Transportation is giving airlines a break by withdrawing an Obama-era proposal meant to help travelers.

Under the proposal, airlines would need to disclose bagging and other costs upfront. The department said the proposal provided "limited public benefit" and called it "unnecessary."

This information is listed on airline websites, but is often posted in the fine print or disclosed after you select a ticket. 

SEE MORE: 2 More Airlines Become Exempt From The Laptop Ban

This proposal would have made it easier for consumers to manually compare costs between airlines.

Travelers United, a nonprofit travel group, said in a statement that without this proposal, "airlines are misleading consumers about the true cost of travel."

The department also nixed another proposed regulation that would have made airlines report more details on the revenue they earn from these extra fees. Right now, only baggage and reservation changes are required to be reported. In 2016, airlines made more than $4 billion in baggage fees

These decisions fall in line with President Donald Trump's focus on decreasing regulations on businesses. Earlier this year, Trump proposed a plan to privatize air traffic control, which critics argued would give large airlines more power and raise travel costs. 

'X-Men' Director Sued For Alleged Sexual Assault Of Teen In 2003

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 00:03

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Director Bryan Singer is being sued over allegations he raped a 17-year-old boy at a yacht party in 2003.

The lawsuit, filed by Cesar Sanchez-Guzman, alleges Singer offered to give Sanchez-Guzman a tour of the boat and asked the teenage boy for oral sex. The complaint says that when he refused, Singer raped him.

Sanchez-Guzman goes on to say that Singer later approached him and offered to help the teenager get into acting in exchange for never telling anyone about the incident. Sanchez-Guzman says the alleged sexual abuse left him with "severe psychological, mental and emotional injuries." 

SEE MORE: The Toll Sexual Harassment In The Workplace Takes On Survivors

Singer denied the accusations through a statement given by his attorney. 

Singer is best known as the director of the "X-Men" movies. Earlier this week, he was fired from 20th Century Fox's Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" for apparently unrelated reasons.

Singer has faced similar allegations in the past, but each of those lawsuits was dismissed.

Rep. Trent Franks Just Resigned From Congress

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 22:36

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Rep. Trent Franks just resigned on Friday — more than a month earlier than he originally said he would.

In a statement, Franks said he and his family came to the resignation decision after his wife was admitted to the hospital "due to an ongoing ailment."

On Thursday, Franks said he would leave Congress on Jan. 31. That decision to resign came after two female staffers complained about his conversations about female surrogacy. The House Ethics Committee says it is currently investigating those complaints.

SEE MORE: Franken Takes A Shot At Trump, Moore In Resignation Announcement

On Friday, a former aide told the Associated Press Franks offered her $5 million to act as a surrogate.

California's Wildfires Are Forming A Newly Classified Type Of Cloud

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 22:22

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In some parts of California, wildfires are getting so hot, they're forming clouds commonly associated with volcanoes.

Pyrocumulus clouds had been spotted before the most recent wildfires but weren't formally recognized until early 2017, when the World Meteorological Organization updated its cloud atlas for the first time in 30 years.

SEE MORE: Powerful Winds Threaten To Make Southern California Fires Even Worse

Pyrocumulus clouds start forming like any other cumulus cloud: The sun heats Earth's surface, which pushes columns of warm air above denser, cooler air. This warm air eventually cools off and condenses into a cloud.

But a wildfire can make the process even more spectacular. Burnt plants release water into the atmosphere. The rising water vapor and warm air condense around particles of smoke from the fire.

If pyrocumulus clouds collect enough water, they can even produce rain that could fall on the same wildfires that created them. But firefighters aren't expecting help this time. Right now, California is historically dry.

Tillerson: We're A Few Years Away From Putting An Embassy In Jerusalem

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 22:14

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem might take awhile.

"So, this is not something that's going to happen this year, probably not next year. But the president does want us to move in a very concrete and steadfast way to ensure the embassy is located in Jerusalem," Tillerson said.

Tillerson says a few things need to be worked out before the embassy can officially move: They need building and construction plans. They need the land and authorizations. Then, they actually have to build the embassy.

President Donald Trump announced his decision to move the U.S. Embassy Wednesday, the same day he said the U.S. would officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Israel and Palestinians will have to negotiate the official status of the city. But that's been disputed since the 1980s, when Israel claimed all of Jerusalem as its own. Palestinians also claim the city as their capital.

SEE MORE: Israeli Leaders Cheer Trump After He Recognizes Jerusalem As Capital

The decision has sparked violent protests, which have injured hundreds and killed at least one Palestinian. A number of foreign governments have condemned the move.

Deputy National Security Adviser Plans To Leave White House

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 21:48

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President Donald Trump's deputy national security adviser plans to leave the White House early next year.

The White House says Dina Powell's departure is amicable and something it says she planned from the beginning.

The former Goldman Sachs partner joined the new administration as an adviser to Ivanka Trump.

After Powell was promoted to deputy national security adviser, she focused on Middle East policy and planned President Trump's trips to the region. She also helped with Jared Kushner's Middle East peace initiative  — something she's expected to continue with after she leaves.

SEE MORE: Israeli Leaders Cheer Trump After He Recognizes Jerusalem As Capital

Powell's exit could be one of many as Trump's first year wraps up. Other potential exits are rumored, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, economic adviser Gary Cohn and senior adviser Jared Kushner. The White House has denied those rumors.

Spotify Just Announced A Partnership Before Its Expected IPO

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 21:45

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As Spotify is expected to make an initial public offering, news dropped that the company is partnering with a major Chinese music firm.

On Friday, Spotify and Tencent Music Entertainment said they would buy minority stakes in each other. Tencent owns its own streaming companies, which garner more than 600 million monthly active users. Not much is known about the value of the deal, but industry insiders told The Wall Street Journal it seems mutually beneficial.

SEE MORE: Taylor Swift Shakes Off Her Feud With Spotify

Both companies — said to be two of the most popular streaming platforms globally — are expected to go public next year. The Wall Street Journal reports a partnership could attract investors and strengthen the companies in licensing negotiations.

Spotify would also gain access to the Chinese market, which an expert told the BBC is a "missing link" for the company.